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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi_BoysFat Charlie Nancy has a solid life – a decent job in London, a devoted fiancée – but a life as boring as drying paint.  Then his father dies, and things change.

His dad passes away happily, as the life of the party at a karaoke bar in Florida.  At the funeral, Fat Charlie learns that he has a brother, and that his father was Anansi, the trickster god.  And when his brother Spider comes calling, Charlie’s routines end.

He goes out partying with his brother and wakes up with a stranger.  After Spider “subs” for Fat Charlie during his hangover, the job situation gets…odd, when his cliché-spouting menace of a boss takes a strong interest in Fat Charlie’s computer and suddenly gives him a bonus and time off.

Spider also takes a fancy to Fat Charlie’s fiancée Rosie and things get very strained between the two siblings, enough for Charlie to wish his charming, otherworldly brother gone.  He enlists the help of a supernatural kind, the kind that makes a flock of birds an unholy menace – and Fat Charlie realizes he’s gone too far.

In Anansi Boys, Gaiman reworks sibling rivalry into a rollicking yarn that flirts with the mythological and primordial.  Gods and nature spirits interact with and (more than occasionally) become humans.  And shy Fat Charlie…becomes a lot more himself in a bumbling and humorous hero’s journey, as he saves the day for many, reconciles with his brother, and gets the girl, although I won’t say who or how.

It’s all in the story and the song – and being sly doesn’t hurt.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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